About the Festival

Music Celebrations International is pleased to present the Sousa Band Festival, an exclusive music event that will take place on March 9, 2025, in the Concert Hall at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Four select concert bands will be featured in performance at this historic concert venue. Each band will also take part in a clinic with an esteemed conductor and clinician. All participating bands are selected by application process through Music Celebrations.

The program will emphasize the life and influence of John Philip Sousa, “The March King,” on the American Band movement. Participating bands will have the opportunity to visit important Sousa sites in Washington, D.C., including Historic Congressional Cemetery, where he was laid to rest.

John Philip Sousa

Sousa began his musical career at age 6 when he first learned the violin. When the young Sousa turned 13, his father, a trombonist in the United States Marine Band, enlisted his son in the Marine Corps as an apprentice. Sousa served his apprenticeship for seven years, until 1875, and learned to play all the wind instruments while honing his mettle with the violin. Several years later, Sousa left his apprenticeship to join a theater orchestra where he learned to conduct.

Founded in 1798, the oldest professional music organization in the United States is the United States Marine Band. For all its rich history and traditions, it is probably best known as being led by Sousa from 1880 to 1892. These years started a very long and prolific period of march composition for Sousa, including legendary marches that are still performed today – The Washington Post, The Gladiator, and of course, Stars and Stripes Forever. Semper Fidelis, in addition to being the motto of the United States Marine Corps, is also the title of the official march of the Corps, composed by Sousa in 1889.

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is America’s living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, attracting millions of visitors each year to more than 2,000 performances, events, and exhibits. With its artistic affiliates, the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera, the Center is one of the nation’s busiest performing arts centers dedicated to providing world-class art, powerful education, and outstanding memorial experiences to the broadest possible constituency. On September 7, 2019, the Kennedy Center inaugurated the REACH, its first-ever major expansion, providing visitors with new opportunities to interact and engage with the Center as the nation’s premier nexus of arts, learning, and culture.